SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 NGS Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this skillbuilding lecture, presented Wednesday, 13 May 2015:

W141: Julie Miller, CG, “Anatomy of a Military Pension,” reviewed by Darcie Hind Posz, CG

Julie Miller is organized and methodical. Her lecture on evaluating a military pension file takes the listener step by step through the process of acquiring the file, then arranging, processing, organizing, and analyzing its contents. She tells us how to acquire a copy of the file and helps us to understand what information is in the pension file.

Miller provides tips, such as how arranging the documents chronologically and separating the pensioner’s file from the widow’s file can organize the data. She reminds us to place a citation *somewhere* on the document, to number each document (in brackets) at the beginning of the citation, and to cite each document (in addition to the general citation).

Miller guides us to create an inventory, an itemized list of documents. She provides a great inventory template in the NGS Conference Syllabus. (The template would also be pretty amazing for large probate packets and court records, and I plan to use it for that purpose in the future.) This wonderful spreadsheet in expanded format is available for free at her website.

The next steps of the review process are to

  • read each document several times, including the boilerplate, until the purpose of each is understood,
  • transcribe each record (because transcribing is the “foundation of thorough analysis” and will help us catch nuances),
  • create an abstract.

As we analyze and evaluate, we consider each document’s purpose, the source type, and the reliability of the information it provides. If we are working on a specific research question, we consider what evidence the information offers. Additional resources we might review include pension acts and laws.

The subject examples are well illustrated and described for both in-person attendees and audio recordings. This lecture is available from Jamb Tapes, Inc. It enhances learning about transcribing and abstracting records.


CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by Board-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.